Abstract 2 Introduction 3
Impact on Family 4
Medication Adherence/ Non Adherence 6
Prevention through Risk Identification 7
Schizophrenia is a psychotic mental disorder that is defined by Alanen "as a serious mental illness that usually becomes manifest in adolescence or early adulthood" (Alanen, 1997). Spearing furthers this definition to note that schizophrenia is a socially, financially and emotionally crippling disorder for not only the patient, but also the family unit (Spearing 2002). McGorry notes that in 2002 the economic cost of schizophrenia for Australia alone was $85 billion (McGorry, 2003). This cost can only be expected to grow, as in 2001, 17,731 patients were hospitalized nation wide for schizophrenic related problems, an increase in hospitalizations when compared with numbers from 2000 (AIHW Hospital Morbidity Database 2001-2002, 2004).
In Westernized countries such as Australia and North America, a period of approximately twelve months lapses between the manifestation of early symptoms of schizophrenia and the first course of treatment (Martinex and Garcia, 2002). Martinex and Garcia's research further indicates that such a lengthy time lapses is often detrimental to a patient's long term health and well being. Martinex and Garcia conclude that if the first psychosis is not treated immediately then relapse is far more likely and frequent (Martinex and Garcia, 2002). Much of the information examined on schizophrenia supports this research and to date many Community Programs and Government initiatives are based on the notion of early detection and intervention. The following essay will focus on reviewing a small portion of literature available with regards to early detection, treatment and prevention of this illness.
An acute psychotic onset of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia is often terrifying for both patient and family alike, with the most common of these symptoms being hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are most commonly found in the form of auditory hallucinations; in that the patient hears voices that are not there. Delusions occur as the organization function of the ego regresses, seeing the patient believing that friends or family members are reading their thoughts and attempting to plot their demise (Spearing, 2002). Such positive symptoms lead the patient to suffer from an unreal perception of the world around them; in turn they become withdrawn from society. This withdrawal affects the sufferer's lifestyle management skills, for example it limits their ability to socialize or hold down a regular job. It can however lead to negative symptoms such as a lack of motivation or personal hygiene. All of the symptoms are often frightening and extremely confusing to not only family members who witness the regression of organization, but to the community at large as often thee patient's speech and behavior is so disorganized that they frighten those around them. Spearing notes that less than one in five schizophrenics recover and that acute episodes often reappear more than once throughout the suffers life time (Spearing, 2002). Developing new treatment programs and strategies for the prevention and early detection of schizophrenia has become a top priority for the psychiatric community as a whole (Barlow & Durand, 1999).
Impact on the Family
Much is written about the effects of schizophrenia on the patient when...